After a semifinal run at the Citi Open, young American Irina Falconi Is ready for the tennis spotlight.
College Park, MD – Just fourteen months ago, Irina Falconi was an All-American at Georgia Tech when she made the decision to turn pro. That decision seems to have paid off. After a stellar run to the semifinals at the inaugural Citi Open championships in Maryland, the 21-year-old will skyrocket into the top 80 in the world, making her the fourth highest ranked U.S. women’s player.
“It feels amazing, one of the best feelings for sure,” said Falconi, after prevailing over France’s Virginie Razzano in the quarterfinals. “My coach and I and my trainer have just put in so much hard work. And it just feels absolutely…I can’t describe it. I feel like all the hard work, that we’ve just been putting so much effort in – it’s been great.”
Irina Falconi was born in Ecuador to Silvia Falconi, a legal secretary and Carlos Falconi, a high-end custom woodworker and former pro soccer player. Her family uprooted to New York when she was young, and she now resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I came from nothing. Not to exaggerate, my parents weren’t wealthy. There were nine public tennis courts in front of the building we lived in, in New York,” explained Falconi. “When we moved to Florida [when she was 14], it was solely for my tennis to grow. When I went to Georgia Tech, I knew I wanted to take my tennis to the next level. It feels so gratifying.”
Falconi is enjoying the early stages of her pro tennis career, and has even begun documenting her life on Tour as regular blogger for the USTA. She has also forged new friendships with her fellow American players.
“I love a lot of the American girls,” she said. “I actually have a great relationship with all of them. I can’t think of one that I’m not close with. When you see these girls every single week at the same tournaments you start to get a feel for who you like hanging out with, who you have dinners with and they’re all really great. It’s definitely a little team atmosphere.”
At the beginning of the week, Falconi had a 2-6 W/L record in WTA Tour events this year. She ended the week as the only un-seeded player to advance to the semifinals at the Citi Open, which was also her first semifinal in a main draw, tour-level match since turning pro in 2010.
“It’s definitely exciting,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s almost a feeling of belonging.”
Unfortunately, Falconi wasn’t able to keep up her momentum to get past the second seed, and Tour veteran, Nadia Petrova of Russia in the semifinals. She lost in three sets.
“There’s a tremendous amount of positives,” Falconi said after her loss. “I’m top 80 after this tournament, my first semifinal in a [WTA] Tour event and there’s just been so much progress that my team and I have made. We’re going to use so much of what happened this week for the rest of my career.”
With her success on the hard courts in Maryland, Falconi is poised to be a contender during the U.S. Open Series, and is thrilled to be in the tennis spotlight.
This article was written for OnTheBaseline, a website dedicated to professional women's tennis, and can be seen here.